Mine optimization: improve productivity, reduce downtime, protect workforce and environment

As a digital transformation partner, ABB enables secure IT/OT integration and optimization for some of the world's most cost effective mines. New innovative ABB Ability™ MineOptimize portfolio connects and optimizes all stages in the lifecycle of any mine,  mineral processing plant and enterprise - from design and build to operation and service.

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All industries face the same challenge: how to use advances in technology to increase their productivity and reduce waste. As a result, the focus of technological development is on optimization. On the other hand, each industry faces its own unique variations on this challenge, and success lies in overcoming them in the best possible way.

Strategic mine planning and optimization throughout all lifecycle stages are essential for miners' competitiveness

The mining industry has the task of producing a primary product whose value is decided on international exchanges, and which fluctuates widely depending on global demand: in the past 50 years, the average price of metals has varied by a factor of 600%. At times of slumps, it is the mines with the least productive technology that close.

Another factor that puts a premium on technology is the fact that over the past 10 years the grade of the ore that is mined has declined 40% and the ore bodies themselves have become deeper and more remote. This means that the effectiveness and reliability of a mine’s equipment is becoming ever more critical to its success.

To tackle these issues, operators have to make the most of their suppliers’ R&D departments, and the good news is that significant advances have been achieved on many fronts. This means that when new mines are being planned, and old ones upgraded, the option is there to optimize production in a way that until recently would have been unthinkable.

When new mines are being planned, and old ones upgraded, the option is there to optimize production in a way that until recently would have been unthinkable

Defining what counts as state of the art in mining

One set of advances have occurred in the comminution process – the series of mills that crush and then grind the ore until the particles are small enough to separate on the basis of their densities. Other areas of progress include the increased efficiency of ventilation and the reliability of hoist systems. For example, our smart ventilation concept wires airflow sensors into our ABB Ability™ System 800xA distributed control system. This can then optimize air quality throughout the mine and, as a result, halve the electricity needed to run its fans.

There is the ever increasing sophistication of the automation process. In the past, this has been more basic in mines than it has in factories but the latest versions have utterly transformed the way a modern facility works. On the power supply and electrification side, the mining industry is looking for ways to reduce energy consumption, cut costs and pollution by transitioning from diesel to electricity. Finally, the digitalization is creating additional value and visibility from mine to port and from plant to enterprise

In each of these areas, ABB has been responsible for defining what counts as state of the art. In the comminution process, for example, it has pioneered the gearless design in which the mill cylinder becomes the rotor of the motor, which allows the torque to vary without the need for gears. It has since continually raised the power rating of its drives, allowing mills to become ever larger and more powerful. This allows a rise in the quantity of ore processed, which offsets the decline in its quality. We have also been first to fit high-pressure grinding rolls that can operate without water – useful if your mill is 4.5 km above sea level in the Andes, like the Toromocho mine in the Peru, where ABB provided the largest gearless mill drives in the world.

For many decades, ABB has been known as a world-class supplier for turn key electrification and automation solutions as well as for dedicated mining systems for hoists, gearless or ring-geared mill drives and material handling.

Latest digital developments in mining

Together with our customers and partners we started years ago to think about how mining operation and maintenance can be improved and what the next level of mining will look like. These collaborations triggered many innovative development activities for digital applications and services.

Today, the ABB Ability™ MineOptimize portfolio is ready to deliver additional value with truly integrated digital mining applications for unmatched operation, maintenance, process and production optimization.

ABB Ability MineOptimize™ digital applications are based on the ABB Ability automation and information management platforms.

ABB Ability MineOptimize™ digital applications are based on the proven standardized building blocks, they are horizontally and vertically connected and ensure the right people have the right information at the right time.

Digital applications to optimize mining operations

Process and Power Control increases operator effectiveness by unmatched focus on situational awareness in order to avoid operation errors that cause loss of productivity

Advanced Process Control reduces energy consumption and increases productivity while maintaining the desired quality automatically, 24/7

Asset Management and Condition Monitoring minimize unplanned down time and increase equipment availability, while helping to optimize maintenance activities

Operation Management Systems create a new level of visibility in mining operations. They allow the operator to react in real time to any disturbance and assist  planning with automatic scheduling. The result is a much higher utilization of the mobile fleet.

Production Information Management systems consolidate data on plant and enterprise level and provide insight information as well as  KPIs in easy to understand dashboards and reports.

In summary, these applications unleash the full potential to deliver sustainable profitability and create full visibility over your integrated mining operations from mine to port and from plant to enterprise.

Optimization services

ABB Ability™ MineOptimize Collaborative services connect our specialists with your teams and equipment on site in real time.

Remote Assistance enables a secure connection between ABB and the customer in order to provide real time guidance through remote access and augmented reality.

Predictive Maintenance enables us to deliver a plant where the equipment alerts you through intelligent cloud-based data analytics when it needs to be serviced.

Performance Optimization services are designed to increase your productivity and keep it on the highest level through remote monitoring of KPIs to guarantee that process optimization is running at the target level. If deviation is detected, improvement activities can be executed instantly. 

Mining engineering and consulting services  help  identify opportunities, recommend and prioritize the solutions to improve configuration, equipment performance, production processes, regulatory compliance, cyber security and business case development. Planning and engineering mine projects with integrated solutions from mine to port and from plant to enterprise bring substantial capital savings through early involvement.
We invite you to learn more from the experts about how ABB Ability™ MineOptimize digital applications and services can help you to develop and implement your digitalization journey. Lets walk the path. Together
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